Dealing with Collectibles as Part of Your Estate Plan


Collections of art, antiques, sporting memorabilia, or historical artifacts can bring us great joy, but these prized treasures can be tricky to incorporate into your estate plan. If you don't want to risk having your collection sold off piece by piece, careful planning is in order.

If you have a collection of objects with both sentimental and monetary value, getting an accurate appraisal of these items is the first step in developing your estate plan. You should also ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have an heir who is interested in your collection?
  • Can the person who is interested in your collection afford the necessary upkeep, including the insurance and storage?
  • If this person cannot afford the necessary upkeep, are you willing to leave an endowment to assist with the expense of maintaining the collection?
  • If more than one person is interested in your collection, are you willing to split up items?
  • How do you plan to compensate heirs who are not receiving a part of your collection?

If you have no heirs who are interested in your collection, you may wish to donate it to a museum where it can be displayed for others to enjoy. This is not always as easy as it sounds, however. Museums have limited storage space and limited funds for the upkeep of their displays. Depending upon the size of the collection, it may be difficult to find a museum that is willing and able to accept your gift. You will need to speak to the organization's representatives ahead of time to make sure they have the interest and resources needed to properly care for your collection.

Once you find an interested museum, you will need to create a gift agreement that outlines how it will use or display your collection, as well as what will happen to the items if they are no longer able to be used or displayed. To gain tax benefits, you may want to make a gift of some of the items during your lifetime. This should be discussed in greater detail with your attorney.

How Can We Help?

If you are in need of legal representation relating to an estate planning issue, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our attorneys are happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns and develop a customized estate plan that will best meet your needs.